Phil Scott says he’ll seek a third term as Vermont governor, but won’t campaign


Gov. Phil Scott speaking at a news conference in Montpelier, Vt., on Wednesday July 17, 2019 (AP Photo/Wilson Ring)

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott announced Thursday that he will seek relection in November, while vowing not to raise money or participate in campaign events until the COVID-19 pandemic is under control.

In his message, Scott, a Republican, referenced his handling of the crisis, which has consumed his administration’s attention since February. After thanking his supporters, Scott said the ongoing challenges presented by the virus means “these are not normal times and this will not be a normal campaign.”

“So, here’s the bottom line: I will not be campaigning in the traditional way while we are in the midst of our response to this pandemic. Facing, fighting and defeating this virus – and rebuilding a stronger, more resilient economy – are my top priorities,” he said.

Scott said he would not raise money, open a campaign office or hire staff “until the state of emergency is over.”

“I will remain solely focused on fulfilling my responsibilities and serving the state I love,” he said.

A former state senator and lieutenant governor, Scott was elected Vermont governor in 2016, defeating Democrat Sue Minter with about 53 percent of the vote. He was re-elected in 2018, beating Democratic challenger Christine Hallquist.

Scott faces a challenge in the August Republican primary from John Klar. The Democratic primary will feature three candidates hoping to unseat Scott in November: Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, former Education Secretary Rebecca Holcombe and attorney Patrick Winburn.

But Scott is betting that his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic will carry him through. Since March, he has appeared at least three times a week in widely broadcast news briefings, discussing the state’s ongoing response. Meanwhile, Vermont has one of the lowest retransmission rates in the country and the state’s economy is re-opening in stages.

“As our state and nation continue to navigate a once-in-a-century challenge, Vermonters need and deserve a full-time governor who is focused on leading Vermont through the public health and economic crisis COVID-19 has created,” Scott said.

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